Household spending shows early symptoms of fatigue

  4/27/2018 |   SHARE
Posted in Canadian Economy and Housing Market by Sheru Asnani | Back to Main Blog Page

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Canadian households, the main driver of the country’s economy for the past decade, are showing signs of spending fatigue.

An uptick of 0.4% in retail sales matched expectations, but excluding automobiles they were flat, trailing the median forecast of a 0.4% gain. Inflation also missed expectations.

The data support the Bank of Canada’s view of an economy that’s slowing from an exceptionally robust period of growth last year. The reports may also call into question how quickly policy makers led by Governor Stephen Poloz, who held rates steady this week, can raise borrowing costs back to more normal levels.

“There are no red flags here,” Benjamin Reitzes, a Canadian rates and macro strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said by phone from Toronto. The numbers are “still consistent with them going in July.”

The consumer price index climbed 2.3% from a year earlier, the most since October 2014, Statistics Canada said from Ottawa. That lagged the consensus forecast of 2.4%, and the monthly increase of 0.3% also trailed expectations.

“The deluge of data… generally under-performed consensus expectations, but not by enough to alter the overall outlook for the economy,” Royce Mendes, economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto, wrote in a research note. “The underwhelming readings on prices will delay calls for an acceleration in Bank of Canada rate hikes.”

The 12-month pace of retail spending slipped to 3.5%, well below the unsustainable 8.7% of October. “It’s still strong. It has softened,” Nathan Janzen, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada, said by phone from Toronto.

The numbers suggest enough slack remains in the economy to prevent a surge in inflation, at least for the time being, bolstering the central bank’s view. Stripping out a 17% gain in gasoline prices the inflation rate was 1.8%, unchanged from February, and the average of the Bank of Canada’s three preferred core measures was little changed at about 2% in March.

Source: Bloomberg News

Bank of Canada Benchmark Rate, Canada, Consumer Confidence, Economic Growth, Household Debt

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